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See You at the Hall
Boston’s Golden Era of Irish Music and Dance
Susan Gedutis

2004 • 272 pp. 27 illus. 6 x 9 1/4"
Music / Irish Studies / History - 20th Century

$24.95 Paperback, 978-1-55553-640-4

An engaging look at Boston’s golden era of Irish traditional music

From the 1940s to the mid-1960s, on several evenings a week, thousands of Irish and Irish Americans flocked from miles around to the huge, bustling dance halls -- the Intercolonial, the Hibernian, Winslow Hall, the Dudley Street Opera House, the Rose Croix -- that dotted Boston's Dudley Square. For the city's Irish population, the Roxbury neighborhood, with its ballrooms and thriving shopping district, was a vital center of social and cultural life, as well as a bridge from the old world to the new.

See You at the Hall brings to life the rich history of the "American capitol of Galway" through the eyes of those who gathered and performed there. In this engaging look back at Boston's golden era of Irish traditional music, Susan J. Gedutis deftly weaves together engaging narrative with spirited personal reminiscences to trace the colorful dance hall period from its beginnings in 1940s Roxbury, when masses of young Irish flooded Boston following World War II, through its peak years in the 1950s, to its decline in the 1960s, when reduced immigration, urban social upheaval, and a shift in neighborhood demographics brought an end to the heyday of Irish dance hall music in Boston. After the last dance hall closed, Dudley Square musicians moved from the big ballrooms to pubs, social clubs, and private parties, preserving the music and passing it on to younger generations of Irish performers.

Today, Irish traditional music is experiencing a major revival, and Boston still boasts a lively Irish music scene. This vivid portrait of the enduring and vibrant heritage of the dance hall era will rekindle memories of the good times in Dudley Square, and it will fascinate the legion of fans around the globe interested in the roots of the Irish music they hear today in concert halls, pubs, and clubs. The book also recounts an important period, as yet unchronicled, in the history of Irish music in America, and of the Irish in the diaspora.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Susan Gedutis has created a highly readable, very enjoyable, and historically important memoir of this era… a loving, sensitive recreation of a scene that will never be witnessed again… [The] interviews alone are a treasure trove, but the author has given them a beautiful and understandable context within which to more fully appreciate them… See You at the Hall puts Boston on the map with other large Irish cities and it will be of interest on both sides of the Atlantic for those concerned with Irish culture in all its many forms. It is very accessible for those without formal training, yet at the same time it will be of tremendous value to researchers both now and in the future. Northeastern University Press must be commended for publishing this book.”H-Net URBAN Digest

“What this study does very well is reanimate a lost chapter of the history of the Irish-American community in the Boston area . . . See You at the Hall chronicles an unrecorded chapter in the coming-of-age of one of the major Irish-American communities in the United States. The community of Irish musicians and enthusiasts is greatly enriched by Gedutis’s careful, yet exuberant, retelling of a vigorous period in the life of Irish music.”—New Hibernia Review

“Irish dance halls were a well established fact of life in cities across much of the U.S. in the 1930s. Following World War II, through the 1940s and 1950s, some of these dance halls attained legendary status. Unique amongst its peers was Boston’s Irish ballroom scene—five halls on the same street, all within very short walking distances from each other and to public transport. Here, Susan Gedutis chronicles an astonishing era in Boston’s history in the words of those who lived it.” —Joe Derrane

See You at the Hall will stand alone as the definitive book on Irish music and dance halls in Boston. It will be welcomed not only by a general readership of Irish Americans for whom this will be a moving and nostalgic glimpse of their past, but also by libraries, museums, and colleges everywhere that offer serious programs in Irish studies.”Thomas H. O’Connor, author of The Boston Irish: A Political History and The Hub: Boston Past and Present

Author Photo

SUSAN GEDUTIS is a freelance music writer and book editor. She plays traditional Irish flute and whistle, as well as alto and baritone saxophones. She teaches music and performs regularly in clubs and pubs, and at dances in the New England area. MICK MOLONEY combines the careers of professional musician, musicologist, and teacher. An acclaimed Irish singer and instrumentalist, he is the author of Far From the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish-American Immigration Through Song.

Tue, 15 May 2018 12:58:44 -0500